Haiku as a basis for choreography




McAlister, Christine Okiku Anderson

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This study used selected elements of the orthodox haiku of Matsuo Basho as guidelines for a choreographic work entitled “Haiku: The Four Seasons.” The elements that were employed within the choreography were nature’s role in haiku, sabi and haiku, kigo, inspirations and spontaneity, and suggestion and brevity. The haiku is a three line, seventeen syllable poem which tries to capture an instant in nature using brief description and suggestion as elements within its structure. Movements from nature and the environment coupled with selected elemental features of the haiku provided ideas for the dance. The dance revolved around the theme of the dour season of the year. Each section of the dance can be considered a “moving” haiku, which represented a particular season. Within each section, the abstracted movement and qualities of animal and environment typical to that particular season were seen. A review of literature was comprised mainly of books on haiku and on the Zen philosophy of Japanese people. Research into the area of related choreography was limited due to the fact that few choreographers have used any aspects of haiku as a source of choreographing a dance. Procedural steps were then directed towards selecting five main dancers to dance the core of the choreography, developing the theme of the four seasons, and creating movement ideas relative to selected haiku elements and to movement ideas of animal and environmental qualities. An album by Walter Carlos entitled “Sonic Seasonings” was the music selection incorporated in the spring, Summer, and Winter sections. Kathy Andrews, a sophomore music student at Sam Houston State University composed a piece on the piano for the Fall section of the dance. To produce an aura of simplicity and to eliminate time wasted in costume change, flesh colored tank top leotards and tights were used during all four sections of the dance. Lighting effects and slides were used to create a visual enhancement of each particular season and five panels of white broadcloth served as a visual abstraction of snow falling in the Winter section.



Choreography, dance, Haiku, Matsuo Basho